Prize and Adornments

The Erasmus Prize consists of euro 150,000 and adornments. The adornments were designed by Bruno Ninaber van Eyben in 1995. The adornments consist of a harmonica folded ribbon with a titanium plate at both ends. In closed form it is a booklet; when opened a ribbon with a text in Erasmus’ handwriting. This text taken from a letter to Jean de Carondelet (Basel 5 January 1523) is characteristic of Erasmus’ thinking:

‘variae sunt ingeniorum dotes multae seculorum varietates sunt. quod quisque potest in medium proferat nec alteri quisquam invideat qui pro sua virili suoque modo conatur publicis studiis utilitatis aliquid adiungere.’
‘diverse are the gifts of men of genius and many are the different kinds of ages. let each one reveal the scope of his competence and let no one be envious of another who in keeping with his own ability and style tries to make a useful contribution to the education of all.’

Bruno Ninaber: ‘During the award ceremony the Patron of the Foundation invests the laureate with the adornments. Through this gesture the laureate is symbolically welcomed into the circle of Erasmus Prize winners. Erasmus was not a man of the spoken word, not a preacher like Luther or Calvin. He was a quiet man, who thought, read and wrote. To honor him the adornments are made in the form of a booklet that holds his text. A text that admits the receiver into the universal principles of Erasmus’ oeuvre. Principles which are not shouted out loud, but daily and unobtrusively put into practice. This is why the text is not written boldly on the outside, but hidden inside the booklet. The receiver of such a booklet will not place it on the bookshelf. No, he will put it in a safe. That is the reason why the booklet has a case like a safe. Only to a few does the receiver show the content of the Prize.’